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Demon Roars: De Minaur Advances To Milan Final

Aussie Alex de Minaur’s breakthrough season got even better on Friday evening, as the 19-year-old defeated Spaniard Jaume Munar 3-4(5), 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(4), 4-2 to reach the championship match at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

De Minaur is now an impressive 28-22 on the year after entering 2018 with just two tour-level match wins to his record. The second seed has not lost a match at the Fiera Milano, winning Group B before battling past Munar in exactly two hours.

While De Minaur and Munar had never contested a FedEx ATP Head2Head match before, Munar had won their two previous professional meetings, both in straight sets. One of those clashes came in the final of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Segovia, Spain last August, when the Spaniard lifted his first trophy at that level. Munar cruised past his Aussie counterpart in that match, triumphing in just 70 minutes.

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But De Minaur has grown his game tremendously since then, making the largest jump of any player into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings this year, moving from No. 208 to No. 31. And he showed how he has soared that high on Next Gen Arena, saving all five break points he faced to advance to the final.

The semi-final got more complicated than it appeared it would, though. After losing an opening-set tie-break, De Minaur grabbed control, using his speed to frustrate Munar, while stepping in aggressively when appropriate. And at 3-2, 0/40 in the fourth set on the seventh seed’s serve, the Aussie was on the verge of victory. But on his final two match points in the game — his third and fourth match points overall — De Minaur missed a forehand passing shot just wide and then a high backhand volley just wide as well. And Munar used that momentum to force a decider.

De Minaur was in uncharted territory, having lost just one set throughout round-robin play, but he quickly regrouped. The No. 1 Aussie in the ATP Rankings immediately broke in the decider and did not let slip his advantage, winning 80 per cent of his service points in the fifth set to earn the right to play for the title against top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or 2017 runner-up Andrey Rublev. Munar will compete against the loser of the second semi-final on Sunday in the third-place playoff.
Source: ATP World Tour

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